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Full text of "History And Human Relation"

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On the other hand, against mathematics (for example),
it has the disadvantage that mere progress from one
chapter-to another—the mere perusal of a larger area of tfye
subject-matter—does not in itself constitute or impose
an intellectual discipline. The mere reading of history,
the mere process of accumulating more information in
this field, does not necessarily give training to a mind
that was initially diffuse. For this reason it is not wise
to learn history by a hasty accumulation of information,
so that the mass of data clutters up the memory and the
growth of knowledge too greatly outstrips the general
development of the mind. Furthermore, in the case of
mathematics we start with our feet on the hard earth,
learning the simplest things first, firmly establishing
them at each point before we go any further, and making
our argument good and watertight at each step of the
way. In other words, we begin with strong founda-
tions of concrete, and we gradually build our skyscrapers
on the top of this. In the case of history, on the other
hand, we start up in the clouds, at the very top of the
highest skyscraper. We start with an abridged story,
seen in the large and constructed out of what in reality
are broad generalisations. It is only much later, when
we reach the actual work of research, that we really come
down to earth and arrive at the primary facts and
primary materials. Only at the end of many years of
training do we come to know what it means genuinely to
establish the assertions that we make* For this reason,
history is dangerous as an educational subject; and the
best kind of history-teacher is not the one who tells us
most clearly what to believe—not the one who seeks